Confucius Institutes Have Been Rapidly Dissolving — Here Are The Dozens Still Left On American Campuses


confucius-institutes-have-been-rapidly-dissolving-—-here-are-the-dozens-still-left-on-american-campuses

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Confucius Institutes have faced increasing scrutiny by lawmakers over the years, with accusations of the Chinese government exerting its soft power and enforcing a culture of self-censorship within chapters at campuses across the country.

The Trump administration announced its plan to designate the Confucius Institutes U.S. Center (CIUS) as a foreign mission Thursday, in order to counter growing influence from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The designation comes amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and China, and requires the CIUS in Washington to declare its personnel and property in America along with the curriculum used in its classrooms. Such a policy hopes to allow U.S. officials more transparency into the government-sponsored organization’s operations and does not require the existing chapters to close. (RELATED: Trump Administration Designates Confucius Institute As Foreign Mission In Response To Chinese Communist Party Influence)

US explains designation as “foreign mission” will not force #China-funded Confucius Institutes to close. Rather, will require more info filing to @StateDept about staff, recruiting, funding so US schools w/ CI’s on campus can make “more informed” choices. https://t.co/nzuXdaO4Hz pic.twitter.com/Enc9kVP26m

— Eunice Yoon (@onlyyoontv) August 13, 2020

The CIUS is funded by the Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban) based in Beijing, which is tied to the Chinese Ministry of Education. Its directors are either members of the CCP, or have close ties to the party.

While the Confucius Institute claims to offer funding for language study and education on Chinese culture, they have also propagated China’s views on contentious topics such as Tibet and Taiwan. The Justice Department has also focused its efforts on rooting out Beijing’s influence through researchers and professors. Over the last year, several university employees were charged with recruiting talent for China and lying about their ties with the Chinese Communist Party while accepting upwards of millions in grants from federally funded U.S. programs.

Necessary step to removing CCP influence on American campuses.

Confucius Institutes condition their partnerships with silencing of critics of China’s vast human rights abuses and authoritarian regime while serving as a platform for the CCPs propaganda. https://t.co/YkqCLlhAUr

— Rep. Dan Crenshaw (@RepDanCrenshaw) August 14, 2020

Confucius Institutes operate on both college campuses and in school districts across the country, although more than 50 chapters have closed, many of them recently following the crackdown on Chinese influence within the U.S.

For example, in April 2020, there were 86 Confucius Institutes in the U.S., according to a National Association of Scholars roundup, when two years prior, there were 103. While many did not explain their reason for closing, some have attributed the shuttering of their campus’ institute to increased scrutiny by the U.S. government. Several institutes announced their plans to shut down in the spring and summer of 2020.

The Daily Caller reached out to every Confucius Institute in the U.S. listed by the National Association of Scholars as of April 2020. Many of the chapters listed in April have since dissolved. As of August 14, there are approximately 66 Confucius Institutes in the U.S., and 54 have closed since opening.

This list will be updated with closures. Many Confucius Institutes that closed may still have a university website that has not been updated with termination dates. 

  • Troy University
    • Started in 2007
  • Alabama A&M University
    • Started in 2014
  • University of Central Arkansas 
    • Started in 2008
  • University of California, Los Angeles
    • Started in 2010
  • San Diego Global Knowledge University
    • (Transferred in June 2019 from San Diego State University) Started in 2019
  • Stanford University
    • Started in 2013
  • University of California, Santa Barbara
    • (Start date N/A)
  • Colorado State University 
    • Started in 2012
  • Central Connecticut State University
    • Started in 2013
  • George Washington University
    • Started in 2013
  • Broward County Public Schools
    • (Start date N/A)
  • Emory University
    • Started in 2008
  • Kennesaw State University
    • Started in 2009
  • Wesleyan College
    • Started in 2012
  • Georgia State University
    • Started in 2010
  • Northwest Nazarene University
    • (Start date N/A)
  • Chicago Public Schools
    • Started in 2005
  • Valparaiso University
    • Started in 2007
  • Kansas State University
    • Started in 2014
  • Simpson County Schools
    • Started in 2019
    • The director of the Confucius Institute of Western Kentucky explained that the institute at K-12 schools in Kentucky do not “listen or operate under the direction of Hanban/CI headquarters” and it “operates free and open from any Chinese oversight or guidance in any way.” Furthermore, the Confucius Institute Center in Washington, D.C. does not impact this region’s budget or operations in any way.
  • University of Kentucky 
    • Started in 2010
  • Xavier University of Louisiana
    • Started in 2012. University spokesperson told the Daily Caller that the most recent foreign-missions designation decision is being reviewed, and that the University has no further comment.
  • Tufts University
    • Started in 2014
      • “We’re following the news closely, look forward to learning details of the requirements, as more information becomes available, and will then evaluate what this means for the Confucius Institute at Tufts University,” a Tufts spokesperson told the Daily Caller. 
  • University of Southern Maine
    • Start date N/A
  • Michigan State University
    • Started in 2006
  • Wayne State University
    • Started in 2007
  • Western Michigan University
    • Started in 2009
  • St. Cloud State University
    • Started in 2013
  • University of Missouri 
    • Expected to close August 2020, started in 2011
  • Webster University
    • Started in 2007
  • University of North Carolina, Charlotte
    • Started in 2007
  • University of Nebraska, Lincoln 
    • Started in 2007
  • University of New Hampshire
    • Start date N/A
  • New Jersey City University 
    • Started in 2015 
  • Clark County School District
    • Start date N/A
  • Pace University
    • Started in 2009
  • Medgar Evers College
    • Started in 2019
  • Alfred University
    • Started in 2009
  • Stony Brook University
    • Started in 2010
  • State University of New York-Albany
    • Started in 2013
  • State College of Optometry, State University of New York
    • Started in 2010
  • State University of New York Global Center
    • Started in 2010
  • Columbia University
    • Started in 2013
  • State University of New York at Buffalo
    • Started in 2010
  • Binghamton University
    • Started in 2009
  • Baruch University
    • Started in 2017
  • China Institute
    • Started in 2005
  • University of Akron
    • Started in 2008
  • Cleveland State University 
    • Started in 2008
  • University of Toledo
    • Started in 2009
  • East Central Ohio Educational Service Center
    • Start date N/A
  • Portland State University 
    • Started in 2007
  • Temple University 
    • Started in 2014
  • Bryant University
    • Started in 2007
  • University of South Carolina
    • Started in 2008
  • Presbyterian College
    • Started in 2009
  • Texas Southern University
    • Started in 2013
  • University of Texas at San Antonio 
    • Started in 2010
  • Houston Independent School District
    • Start date N/A
  • University of Utah
    • Started in 2010
  • Southern Utah University
    • Started in 2015
  • Davis School District
    • Start date N/A
  • College of William & Mary
    • Started in 2012
  • Old Dominion University
    • Started in 2013
  • University of Wisconsin, Platteville
    • Started in 2007
  • West Virginia University
    • Started in 2014

Here is a list of the Confucius Institute’s chapters that have closed or plan to close, followed by the reason for closing, partially collected from the National Association of Scholars and updated to account for the most recent closings or planned closings as of August 14, 2020.

  • University of Chicago
    • The university said that offensive comments from Xu Lin, director-general of the Hanban, led the university to close its Confucius Institute. An official statement on the Confucius Institute at the University of Chicago said that “recently published comments about UChicago in an article about the director-general of Hanban are incompatible with a continued equal partnership.”
  • Pennsylvania State University
    • Dean Susan Welch said that “several of our goals are not consistent with those of the Office of Chinese Languages Council International, known as the Hanban, which provides support to Confucius Institutes throughout the world,” according to Inside Higher Ed.
  • Pfeiffer University
    • Moved to University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Tulane University
    • No stated reason
  • University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign
    • Interim University Provost John Wilkin told the Daily Illini in arch 2018 that “the institute was shut down when the University’s funding was not substantial enough to maintain it, but the University is exploring the opportunity to reestablish the institute on campus.”
  • University of West Florida
    • Pensacola News Journal reported that according to George Ellenberg, senior vice president and provost, a “lack of student interest” led the university to decide in fall 2017 not to renew the contract when it expired in May 2018. Ellenberg said, “We determined that we weren’t really getting adequate return in terms of student interest and decided to discontinue it.”
  • Texas A&M University
    • Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Shields cited a letter from two congressmen as the key reason for the university system’s decision: “They have access to classified information we do not have. We are terminating the contract as they suggested.”
  • Prairie View A&M University
    • Reason N/A
  • University of Iowa
    • The University of Iowa announced its plans to close seven centers due to cuts in state funding. The contract for the Confucius Institute will not be renewed upon its expiration on July 31, 2019.
  • University of North Florida
    • The University of North Florida closed its Confucius Institute in February 2019. “After reviewing the classes, activities and events sponsored over the past four years and comparing them with the mission and goals of the University, it was determined that they weren’t aligned,” the University announced in a statement according to Inside Higher Ed.
  • North Carolina State University 
    • North Carolina State University announced it intends to close its Confucius Institute in June 2019, as part of a project to “restructure” its Asia programming. A statement from University Communications on the university’s website said, “After June 2019, NC State will no longer offer academic and cultural programs through the Confucius Institute (CI). This transition is part of NC State’s efforts to create a more comprehensive Asia strategy led by the Office of Global Engagement, of which Chinese language and culture programs will continue to play a significant role.”
  • University of Michigan
    • James Holloway, vice provost for global engagement and interdisciplinary academic affairs, said the university would bring more of its China studies programs in- house: “This transition is driven by a desire to more broadly include the work of exploring and studying Chinese visual and performing arts within U-M’s regular academic and cultural units.” However, the university announced that it remains open to working with the Hanban in other ways: “Meanwhile, U-M is in communication with Hanban, exploring alternative ways to support the greater U-M community to continuously engage with Chinese artistic culture.”
  • University of South Florida
    • USF cited the national security concerns that members of Congress have raised, along with falling student enrollment. Only 65 students enrolling in Confucius Institute classes in fall 2018.
  • University of Rhode Island
    • A spokeswoman told WPRI 12 that the university was concerned the Confucius Institute could jeopardize federal funding to the university.
  • University of Massachusetts, Boston
    • Katherine Newman, the interim chancellor at UMass Boston, declined to give a specific reason in a 2019 interview with Commonwealth Magazine, but said the university will pursue new negotiations with Renmin University of China to develop other ways to promote Chinese language and culture.
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville
    • Gretchen Neisler, vice provost for international affairs, said the university will maintain a partnership with Southeast University in China but close its Confucius Institute in spring 2019 in order to make its Asia programs more flexible. “Our global efforts must be nimble; from the languages we teach to the research opportunities we pursue, we have to stay relevant and keep an eye on the future. It’s easier for us to do that if we’re running our own program.”
  • University of Minnesota 
    • Meredith McQuaid, associate vice president and dean of international programs, said the university would have lost federal funding as a result of the NDAA ban on Pentagon funding to Confucius Institute-linked programs. McQuaid also said “The Chinese language teaching community in greater Minnesota … has definitely grown and matured over the last decade. Their needs have evolved,” such that the CI is no longer needed, McQuaid told MN Daily.
  • University of Montana
    • According to The Missoulian, Deena Mansour, director of the Mansfield Center where the Confucius Institute was based, “Identifying alternate funding sources will allow us the freedom to assess the best way to support mutual relations between the U.S. and China within the Priorities for Action framework,” referencing UM’s plan to set priorities.
  • Indiana University, Purdue University
    • “This decision ensures ongoing operations of some programs within IU impacted by federal changes surrounding Chinese language programs,” university spokesman Chuck Carney told the Washington Post.
  • Western Kentucky University
    • “The decision to close the CI, which has operated at WKU since 2010, came when the University could not secure a waiver from the Department of Defense that would allow WKU to operate both the CI and the Chinese Flagship Program,” the university’s site says.
  • University of Oregon
    • “The University of Oregon is closing its Confucius Institute because a new law approved by Congress last year prohibits academic institutions from running such a program if they receive U.S. Department of Defense funding for Chinese language program,” a university news page says.
  • Northern State University
    • “The decision was made after a thorough review of Northern’s international programs and activities. The university seeks to shift resources strategically toward services more aligned with its mission, including study abroad programs,” a university news page says. 
  • San Francisco State University
    • Reason N/A
  • University of Hawaii, Manoa
    • “The University of Hawai’i at Mānoa closed its Confucius Institute effective May 31, 2019, in order to maintain federally funded research and educational opportunities for its faculty and students,” the former Confucius Institute’s page says. 
  • Arizona State University
    • Reason N/A
  • San Diego State University 
    • “SDSU closed and transferred the [Confucius Institute] on June 30, 2019 to San Diego Global Knowledge University. ” Instead, the university is “launching a new Chinese Cultural Center.”
  • Miami Dade College
    • The college said in a statement to Politico that the decision was “due to low and declining enrollment that does not justify the operational cost.”
  • University of Delaware   
    • Associate Deputy Provost Ravi Ammigan said “It was simply a decision made due to decreased activity.”
  • University of Kansas
    • Interim Provost Carl Lejuez said in an email sent to faculty in December 2019 that the decision to close was in part due to a  “2018 law that restricts Department of Defense funds to universities that host Confucius Institutes,” according to KMAN
  • University of Missouri
    • “We were notified by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs this past July that due to changes in State Department guidance, we would now be required to have a certified Mandarin Chinese language teacher in every classroom with a Confucius Institute staff member,” which the university found cost-prohibitive, said Mary Stegmaier, interim vice provost for international programs, in a statement in January. The termination was affective August 2020.
  • University of Maryland
    • President Wallace Loh said the National Defense Authorization Act for 2019 “includes language that prevents organizations that host a [Confucius Institute] from participating in certain federally funded programs.”
  • University of Alaska, Anchorage
    • Budget pressures
  • New Mexico State University
    • “NMSU cited low enrollment and “funding issues” with the Office of Chinese Language Council International, the institute’s headquarters in Beijing (commonly referred to as “Hanban”), in its decision to close the institute,” the Las Cruces Sun News reported
  • Auburn University
    • Auburn University at Montgomery’s agreement to host a Confucius Institute on campus expired in June 2019. AUM did not renew the agreement.
  • University of Arizona
    • “Changes in federal law and policy”
  • University of Miami   
    • Global Initiatives Program to take over programming after the closing of the Confucius Institute in June 2020
  • California State University, Long Beach
    • No longer in operation, per the institute’s former campus website
  • University of Maryland
    • Expected to close summer 2020, started in 2005
    • Ended after Congress passed legislation that the university said could jeopardize future federal funding if the program were to continue.
  • University of Oklahoma
    • Started in 2006, closed in 2020 
    • A faculty committee recommended that administrators discontinue the chapter’s presence at OU, a recommendation based on a number of compliance and risk factors including the concern that the CI could threaten or undermine the university’s efforts to secure grants.
  • University of Memphis
    • Started in 2007, closed in 2020
  • George Mason University
    • Started in 2009, closed June 2020
  • Middle Tennessee University
    • Started in 2010, said it was “winding down” its relationship with the Confucius Institute in July 2020, and will continue to have strong ties with China once the institute closes
    • In a statement to the Daily Caller, Andrew Oppmann, a spokesman for Middle Tennessee University said: “From the outset, MTSU’s partnership with the Confucius Institute has focused on cultural and social exchange opportunities rather than scientific research involving federal funds or sensitive areas of governmental interest. MTSU through the years has more narrowly defined its relationship with the institute and established protocols that strictly maintain the university’s academic freedom and provides transparency. No outside entity has control over what we teach. We are in the process of winding down our relationship with the Confucius Institute. As such, many of the programs that were a part of that relationship now fall to the MTSU Center for South and East Asian Studies, which we launched in 2009 to increase international enrollment and academic opportunities at our university.”
  • Savannah State University
    • (Start date N/A)
    • Closed in June
  • University of Idaho
    • Started in 2013
    • University spokesman told the Daily Caller that the University of Idaho is in its “final year of its contract with CI as we evolve the program and look for new funding mechanisms and international partner institutions. We plan to build a strong Asian Studies program in this new model.” 
  • Purdue University
    • Started in 2010. University spokesperson told Daily Caller the Purdue University Confucius Institute closed “more than a year ago.”
  • University of Pittsburgh
    • Started in 2007, closed June 30, 2020. “The CI-Pitt program has experienced increasing scrutiny by U.S. federal agencies. Notwithstanding our best efforts in political and legal circles, restrictions have impeded the University’s capacity to effectively maintain our role in this partnership,” a statement reads on the university’s website
  • University of Arizona
    • Started in 2007, expected to close July 30
  • New Mexico State University
    • Expected to close summer 2020, started in 2007
  • University of California, Davis
    • Started in 2012
    • In a letter to Hanban officials, Chancellor Gary S. May wrote that UC Davis would consider new collaborations that can build on the accomplishments of the institute. “The time has come for us to consider new pathways by building on cultural exchange programs like those our Confucius Institute has fostered,” he said.
  • University of Texas at Dallas
    • Started in 2007. University spokesperson told Daily Caller that while there was a Confucius Institute at the University in the past, “we had not had one for several years.
  • Augusta University
    • University spokesperson told the Daily Caller that the Confucius Institute at the campus has been closed for several years.
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
    • Started in 2008. A University spokesperson told the Daily Caller that the Institute will close, effective Dec. 31.
  • Community College of Denver
    • Started in 2007. The director of the Confucius Institute at the campus told Daily Caller that their chapter would be closing September 30, 2020 “due to budgetary and environmental circumstances.”
  • University of Washington/ Seattle Public Schools
    • Started in 2010. A University spokesperson told the Daily Caller that the University of Washington “ceased hosting the Confucius Institute of the State of Washington (CIWA) in late January 2020.”

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